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“my kind o' place..........”

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Islazul Villa Don Lino
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Rafael Freyre
Reviewed March 12, 2013

Small and friendly....relaxed. I got to know everybody...Best sleep I've ever had....never disturbed at any time. No bank at the resort, so change your $'s at the airport, but Ruben, behind the bar can often help you, but he makes a bit on it....that's only fair. Ruben runs a taxi service too and is connected, if you want anything, snorkling/diving/fishing/cigars....you name it, he'll set you up. I found him to be honest and helpful. I got to know his whole family...I like to go to a country and meet the real people..His taxi is the red Lada. Leo is another great service provider, good english as-well and a 1951 Willis jeep...safe and reliable taxi. The horse-driven carriages are parked just outside the resort gates, they are a bit intimidating..sometimes eight or so hangin' around....but I got to know them all...honest and friendly, but no english at all. Jordi took me to find cigars and another time for a shave and a coconut,,,just had a ball. He is the big fella with the broad smile. He stopped at his home to introduce me to his children and wife. On my last day he took for a tour and wouldn't take a nickle or a peso. Let me drive his carriage as well.
Food was ok, but not great, but if you order in the morning you can get a wonderful lobster dinner with a bottle of wine for 9 peso, highly recommended...
Very rural setting, I love to be surrounded by fields, farms and livestock. I stopped my mo-ped to ask a farmer if I could film him ploughing with oxen...no problem....but to beat that he let me do a couple of passed turning down corn stubble....how cool is this??????
Never felt safer....wondered all around before and after dark...many Canadians were invited in for coffee or dinner...
It took us a couple of days to figure everything out, no-one there to give you much guidance. That was the fun....seemed like that was the job of the "repeaters", to help the "newbies".
I have a lot of good stories....nothing bad at all....I did not want the 5 star situation...it embarrasses me....I told my travel agent I wanted straw mattresses and bunk beds....this don't come close....comfortable rooms/quiet/relaxed/friendly folks...what more can you desire....My kinda place....

Room Tip: new "bungalow"...have 4 units in them but were quiet and new and it all worked....heard co...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank Mike L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 9, 2013

My Husband and I stayed at Don Lino the 1st week of March. We have travelled extensively and have stayed at a 2 star in San Andres for 8 consecutive years. We also stayed at a 2 star in Manzanillo Cuba 5 years ago. Don Lino does not compare. A 2 star rating does not mean zero service. I have never seen anything quite like Don Lino.

Rooms - I have not figured out the room descriptions yet. I have seen "Bungalow, Cabana & Room". Our 1st room was in in wooden building with 2 rooms on bottom floor and 2 rooms on top. Very small and dark. Could hear every movement from beside and above. We requested to move to #1001, a pool view room. It was much nicer. Bigger, quieter and brighter. No complaints about this room. Always very clean. Great maid service.

The Food. Well It's Cuba so we didn't expect much and we got even less. Everything was cold and a mystery, as nothing is labeled or identified. We didn't even bother going for dinner two nights. Bought some crackers at the store and that was it. We did go into to Santa Lucia one night to La Bamba. Great food and service. Very nice people. We should have done this earlier in the week and we would have gone more often.

Other Misc thoughts. Not once all week did we get offered a coffee in the morning. It was always a game to figure out where it was and then get it yourself. One morning a spoon was ng on the floor for quite some time. Finally the waitress picked up and put it back on the table in the place setting. Nice! The table clothes were always filthy dirty and never cleaned of crumbs and stains. Never offered any drinks with dinner. Also saw several Canadian men with their Cuban wives/girlfriends on the resort for the week. How demoralizing for both. And then they would bring their family/friends in the day and the paying guests couldn't get a lounger. Also, lots of food and booze gets loaded into a van moved to a part of the resort to the far left. NOt sure what goes on there. We did try to walk over, but they have it gated off. A drunk person tried to tell us it was military. Yeah right.
We tried to tip, but found it very difficult. We walked and biked the countryside and did leave a full suitcase full of clothes, tools and personal toiletries for the locals.


Enough said. We would not go back.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank RandySven
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2013

A travelled Feb 17 through March 3, 2013.
JymMorton's review was perfect. I usually travel to Brisas Los Galeones via Santiago de Cuba. It was closed this year so I gave Don Lino a try. Overall my impression was good. My only complaint was by luck of the draw. Some tourists are just inconsiderate and self centred. All inclusive is right up their alley and they think they have to drink till they drop. In doing so they disregard other guests and become loud, boisterous and downright ignorant but the hotel can not be blamed for this. I guess it is just the risk that you take when travelling.
I had emailed the hotel asking for a 2 bed, quiet room and got a confirmation that my request was had been honoured then after being there 1 night I was asked if my room met my expectations. 2.5 star hotel 5 star staff!!
Tips and gifts were not expected by appreciated. I didn't tip the wait staff until my last night and was served perfectly the entire time.

Room Tip: Room 1019 was perfect
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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6  Thank Ella W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2013

I just returned from my second trip to Don Lino, and granted it's not for everyone but you need to read the reviews and make sure it's the hotel for you. I think some of the reviewers here must not have done much investigation while at the hotel.
1) I had coffee every morning before 6:00 am you just need to ask the bartender to go into the kitchen to get it.
2) The Espresso Bar opens at 7:30 every morning (officially) but most days I could get one earlier when the bartender was setting up his area.
3) Taxis do not charge per person, excursions do. If you get a Taxi to Santa Lucia it's $10 in $10 back, Guadalavaca $20 in $20 back and Holguin is $35 - $40 depending on the driver. A few of the staff make money on the side by getting a bus and taking you into either Guadalavaca or Holguin and that is a per person rate. (I did a Sat. night in Holguin with Jr. and instead of being back at 1 am like promised we were pulling him out of the bar at 2 am to start the trip back)
4) If you want to go to Santa Lucia, the best way to do it is by Horse and Carriage, I'd suggest looking for Ossmel as he truly is one the nicest people you'll ever meet, and he will spend as much time as you'd like getting there, touring you around the city and bringing you back all for $20

Last week the Scooters arrived at the hotel, so now if you want to rent a scooter you can, I didn't but I think the shortest time you can take them for is 2 hours @ $13 which is more than enough time to get you to Santa Lucia, a meal and back.

If you want a swimming beach go up the road to Playa Blanca (10 min walk from the west end of the resort or 15 mins by road, $3 by carriage) It's beautiful and in winter it's empty. If you want to snorkel and see all kinds of things go into the Don Lino Beach. Yes it's very rocky but there wouldn't be sea life there without the rocks. I saw sand rays, fish, octopus and a bunch of things I can't name.

This resort is not a paint by numbers kit like others I've been to in Cuba. You want something you need to ask for it. They don't tell you the store is not open Mondays after 12:30 nor Thursdays all day and if you don't ask you won't know. The staff there (for the most part) haven't been well schooled in 'hotelery' but they try very hard to please. For example 1 night 8 of us were playing cards on the restaurant patio and at 10 o'clock the staff were finished work so they turned off the lights and left for the night leaving use in the dark. We picked up and moved to the bar patio, but the next morning I mentioned it to Adrian the restaurant manager that most Canadians find something like that rude; a 5 minute warning would be nice, he came back to me an hour later and said he told all restaurant staff not to turn the lights off on the patio if people are using it, and give the key to the bartender for him to turn off the lights after the people leave. What a simple fix, tell the right people what's not to your liking and they'll do their best.

If you can't entertain yourself this hotel is NOT for you. It's not one of the big resorts where there are 1000s of people to keep you entertained. There's not a lot to do on the resort and they only get 4 channels on the TV. Dance lessons have 2 people showing up to them and though the dance instructor is a good dancer, she isn't professionally train so don't expect to get a lot out of it. The life guard is there because his father is head of security, the wait staff is slow, and I bussed my own table more than I sat down to a clean table, oh well that's what I expect from a 2.5 star hotel. Heck my last day there I tended the snack bar because the cook disappeared after putting down a basket of fries and I thought it was better 'play chef' then watch the place burn down because the cook left the BBQ grill on max and the fries in the oil.

If you are adventurous and want a place that's quiet and isolated but doesn't have a lot to do then go to Don Lino and enjoy the whole community which means get off the resort. Any of the people living on the road to Playa Blanca will invite you into their house for a chat, you can stick your nose in the school and all the children are thrilled to see you. One day a group of 7 of us with the help of a band member fixed a roof on a local's house because it has been open to the sky since October. This is the type of things you can do at Don Lino if you are bored laying around the beach or pool, but if you like just laying on the beach or pool patio then you're in luck they have both and with more than enough beach chairs to accommodate. Expect lots of 6 to 8 inch lizards running around and the large toads come out at night (though it might just be the same one because I only saw 1 per night). Sometimes your room would smell and you'd have to open the bathroom window and shut the bathroom door again for me oh well, but lots of people won't like that 'extra work'. They have a disco on Wed. nights, my first Wed. there were 4 people at it, the 2nd Wed they had 30. You have to walk to the other building if you want free drinks because the disco charges for drinks, I've seen the same thing in 5 Stars but at least here you can take your free drink into the disco with you.

If you do think you want to go there then don't forget your Large Thermos, the glasses are plastic and small but if you hand him a litre size thermos and say Servaso, you will get a litre of beer (draft only, bottled and can beer are a buck a pop). One guy had 1.5 litres of Pina Colada to go to Playa Blanco and the bartender didn't blink he just poured it with a smile.

Many of the staff will change money for you if you don't mind paying an extra 2%. Keep a $5 bill with you and ask your favourite staff member if you can buy $5 worth of loneys or twonys off them on your last day as they can't exchange coin at the bank.

I call them as I see them, if you have any questions about the resort feel free to message me, and I'll let you know what I know. i.e. the manager is Julio and he's always in his office if you want to see him ask the receptionist but don't tell her why, just say you need to talk to him.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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43  Thank JymMorton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2013

We went as a family for the reading week and got there very late due to the snow storm in Toronto. They have no internet and not even a printer so the recepcionist had to write all the guests information by hand and it took a while to do it for everybody. The showers are terrible and the beach is full of rocks so the only way to enjoy it is if you have swimming shoes (and we didn't...). The pool is nice, but unfortunately it was cold all the time. The people working there are very nice and the food is also good, but since we came to enjoy the beach and the ocean, it was a bit frustrating. The boat excursion was the nicest part, lots of fun. The check out is at noon, but our bus to the airport was living at 5, so we had to pay extra to keep the room until 2 and then we had to wait in the loby. Prepare your pockets also if you want to go to the city by taxy, they charge you 25 dollar per person. We met some people that have been going there very often, but I'm sure we do not intent to go there again.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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1  Thank Cleusa O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2013

Halifax to Holguin Cuba Feb, 11 one week.

I have been to Holguin over 20 times stayed at Brisas, Playa Costa Verde, Rui Turquesa, Sol de Luna Y Mares and the Pesquero. Also been to Dominican, Jamaica, Mexico and many spots on cruises.

Flight- Sunwing delayed 4 hours no big deal can't control the weather. I MUST SAY A BIG THANK YOU to the supervisor that allowed me extra baggage. I had tools and they were very heavy and taking up $ 320.00 worth of weight. So thanks again sunwing.

The resort only has 120 rooms it small and cosy. We wanted the ocean view Bunglow but did not receive the ocean view. Alway make sure you get to know your Rep ( sunwing) they will help you if you have any issues. Front desk staff a good. Check is was fast only 7 people from the flight were going to the Don LIno.

Rooms- Bunglow's are new have everything you need. No coffee makers in the room but safe and fridge. Fridge does not have water or beer. Bring a water bottle to fill they do not give out water bottles. You can buy beer in the little store if you want.

Beach- very nice, very small coral reef in front need water shoes. But if you go to the far right of the beach there is a sandy patch. Always chairs on the beach so no worries.

Pool- small and clean, no swim up bar.

Food- I never had any issues with the food. Rice, potato's, veggies, pork, beef and fish. There is no reason why anyone would complain. Adrian is the food and beverage manager and he's there all the time making sure things are running smoothly. Please stop and say hi to him great guy ! Drinks are good, because its a 2 star they do not carry Havana Club or high end liqure but I can always find something to drink.

Sand Fle's are bad, but they are bad in most. just make sure you take something for the ich. Also make sure you take benadryl just in case.

Staff- Amazing !! Jesus, Rafeal, Angle and Ruban. If you need a cab contact Ruban, he english is very good. You are safe in cuba dont worrie if they invite you off the resort you"ll have a wonderful time.

I had a great time EXCEPT for some abusive Quebec man that thought that because I live in New Brunswick that if I dident speak french that I MUST BE STUPID, and it went down hill from there.

You make your own night life, This is a wonderful place to relax, relax and just get away from it all at a very low price.

Room Tip: No night life Teens may find it boring New rooms are bunglow Good for seniors- small and no stair...
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with friends
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10  Thank firefighterchic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 24, 2013

The Don Lino certainly is quiet and peaceful, but I would recommend it only to those who want to lay around the pool and drink. It's isolated - there are no longer shuttle buses to take you anywhere else so you're limited to the local private taxis to go anywhere. Even to take part in many of the excursions SunWing offers you have to take a taxi to a different resort to join the excursion, since they don't pick up at the Don lino for most excursions. It`s a bit of a rip-off in that way. There are no water sports such as kayaks available and the shop in the hotel is very limited.

It`s also not good service when the hotel will not change money so you`re at the mercy again of local èntrepeneurs`who of course take a cut first.

There is a nice 2 kilometere walk to the Playa Blanca, a beautiful beach for swimming, but that's about the only walk you can do. Sometimes you can get a bike but depends on who gets there first.

And SunWing, what's with the flights to and from Winnepeg at such crazy times, in the middle of the night? We didn't get to our room until 5:00 in the morning! Why do Winnipeg people have to leave their hotel rooms at noon when they aren't picked up until 11:30 at night? Montreal flights got to keep their rooms until just before they were picked up - what's with that?

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Augustworkshop
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Islazul Villa Don Lino

Address: Playa Blanca, Rafael Freyre, Rafael Freyre, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Holguin Province > Rafael Freyre
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Rafael Freyre
Price Range: $65 - $119 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Islazul Villa Don Lino 3*
Number of rooms: 36
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Also Known As:
Villa Islazul Don Lino Hotel Rafael Freyre
Hotel Islazul Don Lino
Islazul Don Lino Hotel
Islazul Villa Don Lino Holguin Province, Cuba

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